CNF: Flights

by Alyson Mosquera Dutemple


It wasn’t yet evening, and the tasting room had emptied out after the afternoon rush. The next wave of customers hadn’t started filling in, so for a while we were the only ones at a table, the inbetweeners, neither there for the daytime vibes nor the late-night ones, contenting ourselves in the lull, in the quiet of the radio, its melancholy music, full of songs that hit hard out of the blue when you’re alone in the car, or packing, say, for a long trip.

Our countdown to the day our child was leaving was down to single digits, but we weren’t speaking of it.

We were remarking instead on the beer selections, the Route 66 décor, the friendliness of the bartender, which we especially appreciated given the circumstances. We’d come to the brewery, after all, because our spirits needed tuning up. It was a happy occasion, yes, our child heading off to college, but even though it was something we’d been preparing for all summer, somehow we were still utterly unprepared for it.

We chatted about the owners’ vision for this new place, the repurposed desks dotting the room, the board games stacked on shelves, careful not to mention any memories they conjured of our own, our old, family unit. But still they were everywhere, these reminders of the big change just over the horizon.

The road signs hanging on the walls, pointed, poignant, were all filled with images of cars driving away.

We passed a quiet afternoon with small glasses of beer neatly lined up, then suddenly whisked away. All the while, a Pegasus on a rusty gas station sign hovered above our table like a weathered mobile.

So much leave-taking all around. Even the horse had wings.


Alyson Mosquera Dutemple’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in Colorado Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, Salamander, Passages North, Redivider, Arts & Letters, and Cincinnati Review’s miCRo series, among others. She is a 2022 runner-up for the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction, and one of her stories received a Special Mention in the 2024 Pushcart Prize anthology. Alyson teaches and edits in New Jersey. Find her on socials @swellspoken and at www.alysondutemple.com.


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What surprising, fascinating stuff can you tell us about the origin, drafting, and/or final version of “Flights”?

I’ve written a lot of flash fiction, but I have always been too intimidated to try my hand at non-fiction flash… that is, until this piece.. “Flights” is my first CNF flash. I once read a quote from Richard Bauch about the flash form that ends with “in order to make it work in so small a space, its true subject must be proportionately larger.” I guess when thinking about the big change in my family life that is the subject of this micro, I finally stumbled upon a true subject proportionally large enough to write so few words about.


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